When pressed for the reasons why America remains so addicted to fossil fuels (despite plenty of green energy technology) policy makers often whine about costs and uncertainties. This excuse is hollow, however.
Although the U.S. is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, plenty of nations with much smaller GDPs are leaving us in the dust when it comes to renewable energy adoption. The Philippines, which represents a mere 0.40 percent of the world economy, recently announced a plan to shift its current electricity system to 100 percent renewable energy within a decade.
That’s right. With a fraction of the money, manpower, and landmass, this island nation is fast-tracking the “technical, socioeconomic, financial and policy changes necessary for transitioning to a an energy system entirely based on energy efficiency, intelligent grid solutions and renewable supply” according to a release.
Iceland has tapped into its natural volcanic resources to supply 85 percent of the country’s housing with heat. Thanks to a combination of geothermal and hydropower, 100 percent of its electrical needs (and 81 percent of its total energy needs) are already supplied by renewable energy.
In 2010, Scotland announced an ambitious goal to have the country running off of 100 percent renewable energy by 2025. Initial steps toward that goal have been so successful, the country has now upped the ante. According to Go100Percent.org, “Scotland aims to not just be powered by 100 percent renewable electricity by 2020, but to be an exporter of clean energy by that time. Primary sources are expected to be wind, wave, and tidal power.”
Denmark is another European country that aims to forever sever its ties to fossil fuels. The Danish government’s “Our Energy” plan seeks to convert the country to 100 percent renewable energy use by 2050. The plan hinges on energy conservation initiatives that will drastically reduce electrical demand by 2020, allowing half of the country’s electricity consumption to be covered by wind power. Coal-fired power plants will be phased out by 2030, and by 2035, all electricity and heating will be generated by renewable sources.
Think the ambitious goal of 100 percent renewable energy is reserved for countries that can’t profit from oil production? Think again. Just last year, oil-soaked Saudi Arabia expressed its desire to become independent from petroleum power. To that end, the Saudi government announced that it would invest $109 billion to exploit its abundant solar resources. Mecca, which hosts millions of pilgrims a year visiting Islam’s most holy shrine, hopes to become the first city in Saudi Arabia to operate an entire power plant from renewable energy sources.
And while the United States is lagging far, far behind (our President still thinks fracking is a great idea, for goodness sake) there are some American bright spots. “San Francisco, Lancaster , and San José have set official goals to reach 100 percent renewable power within the next decade, and the state of Vermont has an energy plan in place to reach 90 percent renewable energy in all sectors by mid century,” reports CleanTechnica. “The heartland town of Greensburg, KS has already reached a 100 percent renewable power goal set after being destroyed by a tornado in 2007, and aims to achieve renewable energy for all sectors.”
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